Open Letters Series

I’ve mentioned this on message boards and Facebook pages associated with my real name, so there’s really no point in failing to mention it here, on my blog, which I can mostly control. I am autistic. I was diagnosed at age four. In my specific case, it means that I have trouble communicating, figuring out other people’s emotions, and having the appropriate emotional response. This has led to my having trouble with social interactions, and therefore relationships of all kinds.

As I only found out about the diagnosis a few months ago, I’m still processing exactly what it means, and how it has shaded my past experiences. I’m also trying to figure out why I didn’t know about it for thirty-one years.

Lately, I’ve been tempted to contact certain people to either explain my inappropriate behavior, or failure to “get a clue.” There are professionals, such as therapists and psychiatrists, whom I’d love to ask why they didn’t have a clue (I’d start out with my elementary school psychologist, who was actually given a copy of my evaluations). However, I realize that this might be viewed as inappropriate at best, and downright creepy at worst, to track down and contact people who I may not have seen in over twenty years. Heck, some of them may no longer be alive.

The next best thing seems to be to write open letters on my blog. If the intended recipient sees them and wants to contact me, then great. Otherwise, no harm, no foul. Identifying information will be modified.

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What’s up with gluten?

In an earlier post, I tried to make “a funny” about someone who might be on a theoretical crusade against gluten (starting with dollar pizza shops). As my friend Rob pointed out, I failed miserably, and insulted those with actual gluten sensitivity and/or celiac disease in the process.

However, the current gluten-free craze does bring up questions.

First of all, I am very happy that this craze exists, because it means there are more options for people who truly are negatively affected by gluten. Ten years ago, most people had never even heard of gluten, and people with celiac disease had to find specialty stores in order to eat a sandwich that wouldn’t make them sick. Now, many supermarkets have entire gluten-free sections.

Now that I got that out of the way, here is the reason for this post. I was scrolling along my Facebook feed, when I found that one of my favorite pages, I F*cking Love Science (IFLS), posted this:

“Unless you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, going gluten free will do *nothing* for your health.

Image via Skepchick.

gluten-free-uranium

While I completely agree with the sentiment of the sign, I do not believe in IFLS’ addition.

Sure, there are people who appear to be going gluten-free because they think it’s cool, or they’re hoping they’ll be able to shed those last few pounds. Sites like Natural News seem to contribute toward this. (Warning: do not trust Natural News; the reasons will take up their own post). The Jimmy Kimmel Show demonstrated that some people who are foregoing gluten don’t even know what it is.

This is dangerous for people whose health is actually affected by gluten. I’ve heard anecdotes about people whose gluten sensitivity isn’t taken seriously, because friends, relatives, or food service workers assume that the gluten sensitivity isn’t real.

Personally, I’ve been struggling with this. I’ve noticed that certain gastrointestinal symptoms appear to be correlated with gluten consumption. However, since I haven’t been diagnosed, I’m afraid to say I’m gluten-free, because I don’t want to seem like I’m just being trendy, or, worse, somehow reflect negatively on people who have it worse than I do.

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On car registration

We recently moved to Massachusetts, so we’re still in the process of getting everything transferred over to our new address.

My husband asked me a few nights ago when I could take him to the gym (he can go for free as my guest), and suggested we could go after the DMV.

I thought to myself, “what? I have already been to the DMV twice in as many weeks to get my MA license and register both of our cars; like hell am I going for a third time.”

Then I corrected myself. “They call it the RMV here; instead of the Department of Motor Vehicles, it’s the Registry of Motor Vehicles, because this is the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and they have to be different.”

“What the frak is a Registry of Motor Vehicles, anyway? Isn’t a registry a list of the gifts you want? My version of a Motor Vehicle Registry would have a Tesla Model X, and perhaps a Lambo.”

See how practical I’ve gotten, guys? I could ask for any car I wanted, and my first choice was a plug-in grocery getter. However, I think that, while I’m still dreaming, I’d make sure it had side mirrors, and a custom purple paint job.

 

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Parenting Boot Camp

Reddit has some jewels of wisdom. In response to a potential parent’s fears about raising an infant, one Thompson S Sweetback responded:

 

Infants are the drill sergeants of parenting bootcamp. They give you four basic tasks – diapers, burping, feeding, and napping – and then scream at you when you do them wrong. There’s no encouragement, no smiles, just crying and quiet. And they give you tasks at any time, day or night. Just finished changing my diaper? Change it again. Good job, now change that one.

After a few months of breaking you down, they build you back up again. They smile at you. They sleep through the night. They hold their head up, so you don’t have to.

And after It’s over, the tasks you learned – swaddling, diapering, bottle prepping – are tasks you will likely never use again. But the skills you’ve gained – patience without sleep, calm in the face of screams, moving your hand into the shit instead of recoiling – are skills that will serve you the rest of your life.

This is the best description of newborn parenting I have ever read. I’d probably expand a bit on this, if I didn’t have to put my little one down for a nap.

 

 

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Are US Drivers Ready for Mirrorless Cars?

Over the years, cars have had more technology replacing what we humans have had to do manually. Nowadays, nobody bats an eye at automatic transmission; in fact, it’s difficult to find a stick-shift car with options.

Now, as the US is making rear-view cameras mandatory in new cars, Tesla, in conjunction with the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, wants to take it a step further: replace all safety mirrors with cameras  (no word yet on the vanity visor mirrors).

Photo: Tesla Model X
The Tesla Model X, with sleeker, mirror-less sides. Photo by Tesla Motors

Is it safe? Probably. Is it reliable? Most likely? Am I comfortable with it? Heck no! Call me paranoid, but I like having low-tech contingency plans in place. Despite all of the safety technology we have today, the road is still a dangerous place (according to the US Census Bureau, there were 10.8 million auto accidents in 2009).  I like the idea of having cameras eliminate all of the blind spots, but I still feel like mirrors should be there, just in case the cameras fail.

Your thoughts on the matter are appreciated. Would you embrace the high-tech, aerodynamic option with open arms, or do you also have some trepidation?

 

h/t Car Talk

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